Countering Objections to Space Settlement

Space settlement is becoming a mainstream topic because SpaceX is making space colonization economical and practical. The Falcon 9 has already significantly lowered the launch cost and is increasing what can be taken into space. The SpaceX Super Heavy Starship will be fully reusable. This could lower costs by 3-20 times from current costs per kilogram and can increase what can be taken into space by 1000 times.

There is a paper by Al Globus which counters objections to Space Settlement. Al Globus is editor in chief of the NSS Space Settlement Journal and has discovered a way to reduce the design mass of the first space settlements by two to three orders of magnitude. This is accomplished by locating settlements in equatorial low Earth orbit where there is relatively little radiation and rotating settlements (to achieve 1g at the hull) faster than earlier designs as most people adapt to rotation up to 4-6 rpm in a few days or less. He designed three orbital space settlements (Lewis One, Kalpana One, and Kalpana Two) and published over 45 papers in technical conferences and journals, won a Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, a NASA Software of the Year award, and a NASA Public Service Medal.

There are two of the objections and counters below. There is more in the Al Globus paper.

Why settle space?
Talking point: To survive and thrive.

Someday the Earth will become uninhabitable. Before then life must move off the planet or become extinct. While inevitable, this could be billions of years in the future. Much more near term threats include climate change, major asteroid hits, supervolcano eruptions, nuclear war, pandemic, nearby supernova, and technology run amok many of which could happen at any time.

Space capabilities can reduce some of these threats. For example, spy satellites have played an important role in avoiding nuclear war thus far. Space settlement can prevent asteroid hits as an extensive space civilization would likely monitor all asteroids and comets as a potential source of materials for free space settlements and divert any objects heading towards Earth. Special purpose space settlements for developing potentially dangerous technologies can improve safety when used as laboratories isolated from the rest of humanity by hundreds of kilometers of vacuum and radiation.
In addition, in the event of a planet wide disaster not only might billions of people die, but recovery would be difficult since the whole planet is affected. If an extensive branch of our civilization is in space before any of these threats manifest, the unaffected space settlements can provide aid up to and including reseeding Earth.

Objection: Space settlement uses money that could be better spent on housing, food, medical care, etc.

Talking point 1: Most resources should and do go to today’s human needs, but a small fraction should be our seed corn, to be spent on the future.

Mature space activities pay for themselves and settlement can do the same. The classic example is communication satellites, which are the single largest arena of commercial space development. Comsats have earned profits for decades, paying back in taxes the government money spent to help them develop many
times over. Earth resources satellites can also be quite profitable in addition to their vital role in understanding Earth’s environment. Location and navigation satellites enable a thriving economy in ground devices, such as smartphones, that use the government owned and operated space GPS (Global Positioning System) to help people get to their desired location.

SOURCES- Al Globus
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com